Tag Archives: Ethan McSweeny

CTC welcomes new age of maturity with announcement of 2013 line-up

The 29th season of Chautauqua Theater Company closed last Friday with Bratton Late Night, marking the 52nd performance in 56 days.

The season bubbled with unknowns. Vivienne Benesch became sole artistic director; Sarah Clare Corporandy stepped into the role of managing director; and Fifty Ways, the season’s second full production, offered the first-ever CTC world premiere on the Chautauqua grounds.

As the highest-grossing CTC season yet and with The Philadelphia Story marking the highest-paid capacity of any one show in CTC history, the 29th year has been a smash hit for CTC.

“I am incredibly proud of this season,” Benesch said. “It has been a truly remarkable season.”

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Photo by Michelle Kanaar.

Stage manager Moore brings high standards to CTC

She has worked on Broadway and off. On musicals and plays. Most recently, she worked with Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep — who performed in Romeo and Juliet — at a benefit for the Public Theater in New York City. And in the fall, she will work on a Broadway remake of Golden Boy.

Though not onstage, freelance stage manager Jenn Rae Moore runs the show from behind the scenes. And despite Moore’s booming career in New York City, she returns annually to Chautauqua to serve as Chautauqua Theater Company’s production stage manager.

Besides Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch and Resident Director Ethan McSweeny, no one has been at CTC longer than Moore, McSweeny said.

“Viv and I live in fear of the day — and we know it will come — when she is too busy to come to Chautauqua,” he said. “I doubt most audiences realize just how much impact your stage manager has.”

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After Adam Margolin (Michael Gaston) falls ill, his wife, Nina Strauss (Vivienne Benesch), comforts him and asks him not to take his planned trip to San Francisco. Nina’s common-law step-sister Zoe (Leah Anderson) looks on in disgust in Kate Fodor’s Fifty Ways. Photo by Eric Shea.

Between love and oblivion

In her new play, Fifty Ways, now playing its debut engagement in Bratton Theater, Kate Fodor explores the potent but ambiguous states of emotion that lie in the balance between loving and not loving, between forgiving and not forgiving, between moral obligation and freedom from obligation.

These are speculative states of being:

“Would I still love you if …?”

“Could I forgive you if …?”

“Would I stay with you if …?”

We may think we know the answers to those questions, but we never really do. We can never know in which of the 50 ways we might leave our lovers until fate actually delivers us to the crossroads of decision.

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Production team reunites for Fodor’s world premiere

There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are six ways the world premiere of the play Fifty Ways ties to playwright Kate Fodor’s previous world premiere.

Six people who opened Fodor’s February 2012 world premiere of Rx in New York City are now at Chautauqua for the world premiere of Fifty Ways: playwright Fodor; director Ethan McSweeny; set designer Lee Savage; production stage manager Jenn Rae Moore; assistant stage manager Bales Karlin; and sound designer Lindsay Jones.

“In a way, it’s not ‘Why are so many people from Rx working on Fifty Ways,’ but ‘Why are so many people from Chautauqua working on Rx,’ ” McSweeny said. “That comes directly out of work we’ve done with Kate here.”

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Nina’s husband, Adam (Michael Gaston), sits on the bathroom floor with Nina’s common-law step-sister Zoe (Leah Anderson). Photo by Eric Shea.

‘Fifty Ways’: A promising play full of hurt, more hurt and hope

Fifty Ways, the new play by Kate Fodor showing in premiere with the Chautauqua Theater Company, might become music in time. Its promise is atonal. Right now, it plays too pleasantly.

Fifty Ways begins with great assurance, dropping several F-bombs by the end of Page 3 and keeping up that verbal damage for the duration.

As well, the protagonist quickly and convincingly vomits three times, his wife having just concluded a declamation with an odd synesthesia about the different barks her house emanates, which is her way of complaining about the things that don’t work around the place. Those things that don’t work bark at her.

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Vivienne Benesch and fellow cast members perform vocal warmups before opening night of Chautauqua Theater Company’s world premiere production of Fifty Ways.

Behind the scenes at the world premiere of ‘Fifty Ways’

It’s two minutes before the show starts on opening night. The air teems with anxiety, energy and excitement. Actors and crewmembers rush in and out of dressing rooms, bathrooms and hallways — lit by black light — in an effort to be fully ready for their call to places, which signifies the start of Act One of Fifty Ways.

Nervousness fills the space. Chautauqua Theater Company Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch, who plays Nina Strauss, is fully made up and dressed. She stops in the dressing room of her fellow actors.

“It’s just another show,” she says. It’s both a reminder and a reassurance for herself and the rest of the five-person cast.

But really, it’s not just another show. It is CTC’s first world premiere, and it is the world premiere of the first play ever commissioned by CTC and the Chautauqua Writers’ Center.

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McSweeny directs ‘Fifty Ways’ with meticulous vision

Ethan McSweeny is a storyteller, but always of someone else’s story. And on average, he tells five different stories per year as a nationally acclaimed freelance director.

Be it William Shakespeare’s epic plays at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., or playwright Kate Fodor’s brand-new productions in Chautauqua’s own Bratton Theater, McSweeny gives life to the works of others.

“I am the interpreter. In the same way that a conductor is not a composer,” McSweeny said, in a momentary lull in the midst of rehearsals for the show he is currently directing.

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Playwright Fodor presents first Chautauqua commissioned play

For the past year, Kate Fodor sculpted, plied and perfected her play Fifty Ways. In the past few weeks, she handed the reigns to Chautauqua Theater Company to transport her written word to the Bratton Theater stage.

Fifty Ways is a landmark for both CTC and Fodor. It is the first world premiere of a play held at CTC and the first play commissioned by CTC and the Writers’ Center. For Fodor, it is her first play with heft, as it deals with realistic, mature themes, she said.

“It’s this strange change from being the sole owner and creator of this piece and having this incredibly intimate relationship with the thing that I’m making … and then having it be a collaborative effort with a lot of people,” Fodor said. “In some strange way, it stops feeling like it’s entirely mine anymore.”

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